puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce puzzling (audio) , ˈpəz-​liŋ \

Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution
2 archaic : complicate, entangle
3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice
2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity
2a : something that puzzles
b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

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Other Words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ ˈpə-​zə-​lər How to pronounce puzzler (audio) , ˈpəz-​lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve. the persistent fever puzzled the doctor perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision. a behavior that perplexed her friends bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking. a bewildering number of possibilities distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests. distracted by personal problems nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible. the remark left us utterly nonplussed confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement. the tragic news confounded us all dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound. was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors Noun a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Viewed from the outside, the pandemic appears to be amplifying the flaws of America's health and social security systems that have long puzzled the rest of the world. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, May 1," 1 May 2020 Variations on that question have puzzled clinicians not only in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, but across the country and in Spain, the United Kingdom and China. Anchorage Daily News, "Patients with heart attacks, strokes, appendicitis vanish from hospitals," 19 Apr. 2020 For decades scholars have puzzled over what seems to have been a long lag between the origin of modern human anatomy and modern human behaviors such as creating art. Kate Wong, Scientific American, "Is This Indonesian Cave Painting the Earliest Portrayal of a Mythical Story?," 1 Mar. 2020 Disease response experts in the US have puzzled over these escalating efforts, a public health playbook ripped from the era before drugs and vaccines (and air travel). Megan Molteni, Wired, "Could the US Contain a Coronavirus Outbreak?," 25 Feb. 2020 Customers have long puzzled over the presence of tip jars at cafes that serve drinks over the counter. Christopher Elliott, USA TODAY, "Is tipping on the way out? Here's why more travelers are joining the 'do not tip' movement," 15 Feb. 2020 Since then, the slender, detailed figures—now known as Gwions—have puzzled archaeologists, who didn’t know when they were painted or by whom. Elizabeth Finkel, Science | AAAS, "Mysterious Australian rock art may depict the chaos following rising seas," 5 Feb. 2020 Cosmologists have puzzled for decades about how to marry gravity with the speed at which the universe is expanding. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Did Scientists Finally Solve the Impossible Physics Riddle?," 27 Jan. 2020 The death has puzzled relatives who knew Montelongo as a loving mother who wanted whatever was best for her daughter, Mackenzie. Alejandro Serrano, SFChronicle.com, "Gilroy mother suspected of drowning toddler was previously investigated for possible child neglect," 5 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As essential businesses have worked their way through the outbreak, a key piece of the puzzle has been putting up shields to help keep the invasive coronavirus from being passed from customer to clerk or patient to caregiver. al, "Mobile plastics company ‘blessed to be very busy’ as epidemic drives demand," 7 May 2020 The first piece of the puzzle was to find a pandit (a Hindu priest) who’d be willing to officiate an online wedding—something unheard of in India. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Priest on Zoom, borrowed clothes, makeup tutorials: An Indian Covid-19 wedding," 6 May 2020 That leads to the next piece of the puzzle: whether the NCAA will pass legislation allowing athletes in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, football, and ice hockey an ability to transfer one time without sitting out. Jon Blau, Indianapolis Star, "With extended eligibility, IU baseball, softball planning for bigger rosters in 2021," 2 May 2020 The bypass mail segment is a unique piece of the puzzle for rural air carriers. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Mail and freight keep Alaska air carriers on life support during pandemic," 25 Apr. 2020 Figuring out which components go together can be a bit of a puzzle, but this isn’t a meal kit. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "The family behind a top metro Phoenix sushi restaurant just launched delivery-only ramen," 24 Apr. 2020 Part of that puzzle has to do with plate tectonics, which are crucial to every aspect of our planet. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Tectonic plates helped early Earth evolve 3.2 billion years ago, and that shaped how life developed," 22 Apr. 2020 While the vast majority (more than 99 percent) of these meteorites come from asteroids, many new types of meteorites have been discovered, each filling in more pieces of the puzzle of how our solar system formed. Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, "Fifty Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since the First Earth Day," 22 Apr. 2020 However, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are also calling on the WHO to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Fox News, "How complicit is the WHO in China’s coronavirus cover-up?," 19 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of puzzle

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for puzzle

Time Traveler

The first known use of puzzle was in 1582

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Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

8 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Puzzle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puzzle. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb
How to pronounce puzzle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved
: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.
2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness
3 : something that perplexes : mystery

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More from Merriam-Webster on puzzle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puzzle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puzzle

Spanish Central: Translation of puzzle

Nglish: Translation of puzzle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of puzzle for Arabic Speakers

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